The health insurance scheme piloted in the Jembrana district of Bali has been recognized as one of the successful initiatives and is now being rolled out across the entire province. A number of lessons have emerged for ADB and the World Bank from piloting of this reform. This view was shared by people interviewed during the evaluation and by the World Bank, who stated that “more lessons could undoubtedly be drawn by undertaking a comparative study of all decentralization experiences, including those supported by development partners like the World Bank and ADB. Such a study could focus on the different ways provinces have established the province-district relationship, the relative costs and benefits of each, and the variety of ways districts and provinces have developed to exercise autonomy in the health sector despite continuing lack of clarity in the policy environment and their dependency on central government funding”.
For significant impact, project investment should not be spread too thinly nor be so ambitious in scope as to hamper implementation. The project interventions, while generating some positive outcomes locally, did not show much impact at the provincial level because they were too small to produce a broader impact. Concentrating investment in a few provinces would have been more effective. Strategic investment choices based on poverty and health needs should have been made when deciding geographical coverage.
The Commune Council Development Project has shown that a successful program has to recognize the social, political, administrative, and historical context of the country. In this case, Cambodia was just beginning its post-conflict stage, challenged by various problems such as lack of basic physical resources at the commune level and absence of administrative capacities of elected council officials. The design and implementation of the project took into consideration these local contexts.
The project was among the first ADB-funded projects that supported the construction of commune offices. ADB did not normally fund such activities but in this case supported it based on consultation with the concerned officials. A similar observation can be made for ADB’s support for civil registration. A variety of partnerships have been initiated under the project: (a) between and among the national government offices (MOI-DOLA and MOLMUPC) with the PTC playing a key role; ( b ) between the national government (specifically t h e MOI) and the subnational levels, such as the provinces, districts, and communes, with the national government providing the D&D framework and the communes operationalizing and localizing these, taking into consideration the specific context of the commune; (c) emerging partnerships between the government and nongovernment organizations and civil society organizations, specifically in information and public awareness, including the civil registration with the use of mobile teams by the MOI; and (d) between the government and development partners.
The project experience has shown that decentralization can usefully begin with developing basic capacities (human and physical). Capacity development is, however, a continuous process.
Teachers, community-based volunteers, monks, and even hospitals were tapped to influence more people to register. Also, the use of a private bank for disbursement for the construction of council offices proved efficient.
Agricultural support provided to dehkan farms was limited to the duration of the project. No mechanisms were put in place to ensure sustainability of benefits beyond the project’s life. The activities of demonstrations farms were very helpful to dehkan farms in increasing productivity, but these were stopped after project completion. Further, most of these demonstration farms were distributed to individual and family dehkan farms after completion of the project. Agricultural extension services are in the nature of merit goods, with positive externalities to the society. Hence mechanisms should have been established for the provision of these services on an ongoing basis to ensure sustainability of productivity gains.
Transferring management of tertiary irrigation and drainage systems to beneficiaries as a means for participatory water management was appropriate and in line with IWRM principles. However, the phasing of cost recovery and measures needed for WUAs to become sustainable should have been made clear at the outset. Measures for achieving full cost recovery should have been identified early in the implementation process.
While it was established as part of project management, M&E was discontinued after the PMO closed. Hence, project specific data cannot be provided for evaluating long-term outcomes, impact, and poverty reduction.
High staff turnover among ADB’s project officers and district governments tended to hamper effective communication and rapport-building among stakeholders. Consequently, this disrupted efforts to promote decentralized basic education management. Means of effective transfer and sharing of knowledge through, for instance, continued training are imperative. For ADB’s part, increasing the role of the Indonesia Resident Mission to include project management and monitoring responsibilities could have helped address project implementation issues. As discussed earlier, the project was managed directly from ADB’s headquarters in Manila. Moreover, ADB could have exerted greater efforts in disseminating knowledge products to further promote the sharing of lessons learned and best practices in decentralized basic management to other Indonesian provinces or countries similarly endeavoring to decentralize basic education delivery and management.
To address the structural misalignment between MONE and MORA, the role of provincial governments in decentralized basic education should be strengthened, particularly in monitoring and evaluation. The Indonesian government appears to be moving toward intensifying the delegation of authority to provincial governments in basic education. From 2014, provincial governments have full authority in preparing the materials for the primary school final examination and oversee the district government’s implementation of this examination, as stipulated in Ministerial Regulation No. 102/2013 and another regulation of the head of the MONE Research and Development Center. 101.
MONE has implemented the Dapodik online school database system. Schools are required regularly to submit data to this system. However, many schools do not have access to the internet to accomplish this task. School staff must also be capacitated to utilize this online database effectively. 102.
For the ADB-funded section of the road, the Lao PDR government could keep track of expenditures and verify if timelines and guidelines are followed. This was not the case with the PRC and Thailand financed sections. For example, the PRC used its own design standards for the road without conducting any dialogue with the Lao PDR government.
A mechanism needs to be devised for the costs to be shared in proportion to the benefits received by the stakeholders.
The IEM economic analysis indicates that the net present value of the project for the Lao PDR could be made positive if higher grant elements were used in the financing by the PRC and Thailand.
The project was able to deliver benefits to the project area through the inclusion of both the provincial highway upgrade and the rural link roads in the project design. The socioeconomic benefits of these roads were very important, allowing all-weather access to jobs and services (health care, transport). Local tourists use the rural roads to travel to scenic areas, a further source of economic development as well as of support for maintaining the environment. The HPDT advised that it is frequently difficult to gain funding for rural roads because they are of lower priority than the expressways and highways, and ADB support for these projects provided valuable social impacts.
This project was the third ADB road project in Heilongjiang (and a fourth is currently underway). The HPDT has extensive experience in road design and construction, knowledge of ADB practices and requirements, and clear boundaries for its responsibilities. Although international practices can be usefully included in projects, they do not always work well in the local context. With nearly 20 years of experience with the ADB now part of the institutional memory of the agencies involved in these projects, it is likely there are well-qualified local resources available to lead the PPTA studies and produce project designs that are streamlined to deliver the project in the local context and in compliance with ADB requirements.
The difference between the budget and actual cost of supervision and training for the project indicates that the project required substantially more supervision than planned. The HPDT attributes this greater cost, at least in part, to the selection of the low-cost bidders for portions of the civil works. The PCR states “four contracts [of the 26] (procured under international competitive bidding) were awarded on an exceptional basis [due to the very low prices] without determining the combination of bids offering the lowest evaluated cost.” Although these contracts were subjected to higher performance securities, such bids rarely include adequate management and contingency budgets. Therefore, to ensure appropriate quality, greater executing agency supervision and monitoring during construction is required. Comparisons of bids on the basis of established provincial reference prices and the expected quality of higher cost bids should be undertaken before contract awarding to ensure low-cost bidders can deliver civil works of the appropriate quality. The award process should be strictly followed, with no exceptions being made for the low-cost bids. This is likely to result in a better project implementation process within the expected supervisory budget.
Knowledge of the project design and implementation that was transferred from ADB to the government was highly valued, and officials expressed the view that this was more important than the loan financing.
The MFF enabled sequential construction and financing requirements that were funded by separate tranches, thus limiting unnecessary duplication of administrative effort and approvals.
Because counterpart government funding was timely, there were no delays and the project was completed early.
These factors ensured that any actual or potential problems were quickly and effectively resolved.
This continuity, together with stability in personnel capacity, was an important factor in the success of the project. While this lesson may be self-evident, it is not easily achieved and is often overlooked.